UPPER LAKE – LAKE COUNTY If someone wanted to be arrested, they couldn’t do it much more easily than to pack their car full of marijuana, take off the back license plate, and drive around making illegal lane changes – and of course, never using your turn signal.
From all appearances, that is the plan that Richard Hinds and Justin Spellman had when they went out last Thursday evening. According to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, the two were driving through Upper Lake on Highway 20 at 6:30 on February 13. As luck would have it, a detective from the Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force was right behind them, and took note of the missing plates on their Chrysler sedan. Hinds, who was driving, made a quick turn into the Running Creek Casino parking lot, right from the traffic lane, bypassing the center turning lane entirely. The detective followed them in to enforce a traffic stop for the multiple violations, while a nearby K9 unit took note and headed over to join in.
The detective contacted the 34-year-old Hinds, who is from nearby Lucerne, and immediately recognized the smell of marijuana coming from the car. When asked, Hinds admitted that he had 2 or 3 joints with him. The K9 unit arrived, and the officer let his partner do her work while Hinds and the 31-year-old Spellman were detained. The dog didn’t know where to go first, as there were familiar odors present all over the vehicle.
Detectives conducted a thorough search of the vehicle, first finding a partially filled soda can in the cup holder between the driver and passenger seats. Despite their obvious red flags that attracted the detectives in the first place, it looked like the two got busy when they knew they had been pulled over. The soda can contained, not only a burnt marijuana joint, but a zip lock bag that seemed to have been hastily jammed in to hide it. The partly open bag contained some white crystal methamphetamine, but most of its contents had spilled into the drink.
Further search of the car revealed a duffle bag with 43.84 ounces of processed marijuana, and another 7.2 grams of concentrated cannabis. That, along with the 1.3 grams of meth and the highly potent soda were all taken into evidence. Hinds also had $840 in cash, which was seized and will be held pending asset forfeiture proceedings, if it is shown to be proceeds from illegal narcotics.
What may be even more puzzling than the way they were caught is that Hinds, from all appearances, had become a stable family man. He is listed as a partner in the local plumbing and repair business Drains Etc., and has worked with his business to support local Habitat For Humanity projects in their “Brush of Kindness Home Repair Program”, providing plumbing services for Habitat clients. Hinds has also posted messages on his Facebook page about quitting cigarettes and “dope”. Back in 2011, Hinds had been arrested during a probation search at a friend’s home, where he and three others were arrested on various drug charges and parole violations – he was already on parole at that time.
Spellman, a motorcycle mechanic, was arrested just last September when he, along with two friends, were implicated in a residential burglary that included a car and even a sectional couch. When detectives arrested 28-year-old David John Meyer at his Loch Lomond home, he was found with Spellman and 50-year-old Randy Griffin. Drugs, evidence of forgery and stolen property were found, and Spellman was charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of stolen property. And just this year he was arrested in January for possessing burglary tools, a dagger, and concentrated cannabis, and only a week before this last arrest, he was cited for having drug paraphernalia and driving without a license.
Richard Brendon Hinds and Justin Paul Spellman were booked for possession of a controlled substance and for concealing or destroying evidence. Hinds also faces charges of possession of marijuana and concentrated cannabis for sale, and possession of concentrated cannabis. (The driving citations may be added on as well.) The pair were booked at the Hill Road Correctional Facility.
Press Democrat (2011): Probation search of Lake County home ends in four arrests
Record-Bee: Stolen Property reported recovered